Why I'm So Wrong About the Amazon Fire Phone

More corporate mobile learning fantasies.

June 22, 2014

It is painfully clear that none of my mobile learning Amazon phone fantasies actually materialized.

Why am I so reliably and consistently wrong about the interest of consumer companies in the education space?

Possibility 1:  

The whole premise that companies should advance any learning agenda is misguided and perhaps dangerous.  

There is little evidence that companies, particularly tech companies, have done much of anything positive to advance learning. How much money has been diverted to buying hardware or software that could have been spent directly on educators and students?  

Wishing for Amazon to make mobile learning a priority with the Fire phone shows a misguided faith in the potential of both companies and technology to advance educational goals.  

We should count ourselves lucky that Amazon (and Google and Apple and Microsoft etc.) don’t seem to be prioritizing higher ed.

Possibility 2:  

Someone at Amazon is in fact thinking about mobile learning.  Someone at Amazon does sees the potential of the Fire phone as a mobile learning platform.  The issue is not opportunity but timing.  

Amazon is just getting going in the phone world, so of course they are going to start with shopping and entertainment.   

As you read these words, however, there is some group at Amazon that is taking a hard look at the education market.  They are asking how Amazon hardware, such as the Fire, and the Amazon ecosystem and platforms, can be leveraged for learning and credentialing.   

They understand that most of the people living in emerging economies will need to leapfrog past the traditional campus based system. 

That higher ed in the 21st century will happen mostly on mobile devices, and that Amazon (and Google and Microsoft and Apple) have a chance to lay the early groundwork for this shift.

Am I crazy to think that Amazon could do something really cool with mobile learning?

Is it a waste of time to wish that the big consumer tech companies will prioritize education?

How can we bring people from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple into this conversation?


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